My stepfather passed away five years ago this week.
Father’s Day was the last time we spoke, in fact. Despite what people often say, knowing “I love you” was the last thing I said to him is not much of a comfort.
He wasn’t old or infirm or the victim of some terrible accident or horrific crime. He just died. Sitting in his chair in the living room. Here. Gone.
Grief is one of those odd things that hides out in the corners of our minds we don’t often visit, if we can help it. Death creates empty spaces inside us and vast silences where we expect to hear a loved one’s laughter or wisdom. The memory of their presence is also a reminder of their absence.
My stepfather was a thoughtful, stubborn, complex guy. We argued the finer points of politics, religion, and philosophy at the dinner table. We watched Star Trek: The Next Generation together and teased out the moral quandaries. He taught me ethics and logic and argumentation alongside compassion and empathy. As a superhero, he encompassed Batman’s cynical distrust of humanity and Superman’s shining belief in justice.
Possibly one of the best choices I’ve ever made was to marry a man much like him. Possibly one of the worst was to let self-doubt hold me back from writing.
A parent who came to the job late and excelled at it, my stepfather knew I’d be an author long before I believed it.
Here I am, five years too late, with a gift I know he would have loved.
I’ll be a published author next month, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.